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If you have been following me for a while now, you certainly have heard me talking about the cradle to cradle
concept and saying how much I love it! For those who are not yet familiar with it, it was brought by Michael Braungart and William Mc Donough, who have introduced a new way to make things. Everything is written in their book “Cradle to cradle” and I encourage you to visit their idea further by reading this incredibly interesting book (a short, easy and pleasant read).

What is the difference between cradle to cradle and recycling?

When we discard things into our recycling bins, do we really know what happens next? Sadly, not always. I like
to take the example of a plastic bottle of water. We buy a plastic bottle of water, drink the water and then throw the bottle into the green recycling bin, and we feel good about it as we have done something good for the planet. Now if
you think about what happens to the plastic bottle, you may change your mind and think differently. The bottle is going to be re-used to make something else, maybe a fleece. So we buy a fleece, wear it and throw it away when it is not good anymore to be worn. And then what happens to our fleece (made out of the plastic bottle)? Well, it goes to a landfill. So instead of having recycled the plastic bottle, we have just postponed its ending into a landfill. Can we
call this recycling? No, this is called down-cycling.

The cradle to cradle product is manufactured in a completely different way: it is manufactured so that the old
components will be either reused or will biodegrade safely and enter the biological life cycle again. Let’s imagine we talk about a carpet. The carpet is produced according the the cradle to cradle rules, it is installed and used until it needs to be replaced. In this cased a cradle to cradle carpet will be taken back by the manufacturer who will dismantle the carpet and re-use the different old components that cannot biodegrade. From the old components a
brand new carpet will be manufactured again. There is no waste finishing into landfill, the loop is closed, and this
is real recycling. The manufacture process standard’s are raised to such a level that McDonough and Braungart state that, the water (for example) coming out of the factory should be cleaner than when it entered the factory.

Very often when we think about eco-friendly solution, we feel the pressure of less consumption and living a poorer life and this is probably the reason why people are not very keen to hear about why it is important to keep in mind our planet’s health and how we can actively contribute to prevent its deterioration. With a concept such as the cradle to cradle, it is easier to be environmentally responsible as it doesn’t aim at making us feeling bad about living fully, but shows us there is another way of living our live in a full and responsible way.

Emmanuelle Lemoine

If you are interested in the subject, check out our webinar (“What’s on” tab) about "How to make an elegant interior healthy and eco-friendly.

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